I do a lot of projects in small chunks of time as I can sneak away to my sewing machine. When I had many small children at home all day I tried to take 15 minutes to sew every day. It didn’t always happen and I didn’t accomplish much, but at the end of those 15 minutes I had done something permanent. It was not going to be instantaneously undone (like cleaning) or need to be done all over again (like laundry and cooking). Creating can be satisfying that way.
Sew-a-longs are perfect for me because they break a project into small, manageable assignments each day. It also provides some motivation to finish. I usually need a deadline in order to finish something. Last week I led the very first sew-a-long for Sofiona Designs! We made the Starry Night PJs. The pattern has options for a nightgown or a top and shorts, capris, or pants, along with several optional ruffles. My daughter chose a top and shorts with no ruffles.
I used this gorgeous double-brushed poly floral and cotton spandex stripes from So Sew English Fabrics. They generously sponsored the sew-a-long. I literally spent hours on their website trying to decide on fabric. I ended up getting one of their bundles because the coordinating was already done for me! I have plenty of fabric left over and plan to make PJs for the rest of my girls. There is a bit of unrest in our home at the moment because her siblings are jealous.
This sew-a-long was also a great opportunity to learn together. We had several beginner sewists who were sewing with knit fabrics for the first time! We have a fun, supportive community in the fan group and were able to help each other out. I think we all learned some new tricks and tips, so I thought that I would share some of them with you today.
Cut Chart. This is such a handy feature of Sofiona Designs patterns and saves on paper and ink! Just don’t forget to actually cut those pieces out, too!
Layers. These patterns also come in layers so you can print only the size(s) you need! That also saves on ink and makes it less confusing to assemble and cut the pattern.
Notch markings. Don’t forget to transfer those to your fabric. Use tailors chalk, insert a pin, cut notches, or cut little triangles extending outward. It makes it easier to line up pieces later!
Ball point needles. It is more important than you realize when sewing with knits.
Spare needles. Because you never know when you will break one, or two if you are as unlucky as I am. Eye protection is also a good idea if you are that bad.
Tissue paper. One trick that helped some people whose feed dogs were eating the knit fabric was to place tissue paper between the feed dogs and fabric. Also make sure that you do not start on the edge of the fabric. Start in from the edge a little bit and then backstitch.
Stretch Stitches. There are several different options that you can use, depending on what part you are sewing. When I shattered my twin needle I needed a different stitch for topstitching the neck binding. Someone suggested the triple stitch and it was perfect!
Basting. Ruffles and gathering with stretch fabrics can be tricky. The fabric tends to stretch and slide as you sew and flattens out the ruffles. Basting them, or at least pinning very well, can help keep them in place.
Bindings. On this particular pattern, some of us had a hard time on the arm scythe bindings. They are on an angle, so it was important to make sure the binding would extend over the back side when wrapped around. Also, take your time when topstitching these!
Overall, this pattern went together really well. Don’t be scared! I am just being thorough with all of those extra tips that are more for sewing knits with pdf patterns in general.